Canadian Netflix users complain as access to U.S. service blocked

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TORONTO (By Ethan Lou for Reuters) — Some Canadian Netflix Inc users cried foul on Wednesday after the video-streaming giant appeared to have made good on its pledge to block access for customers using unauthorized services to view more varied American content.

Canadian customers have access to less content on the service, with one website estimating Canadians could see 4,000 TV shows and movies, compared with 7,000 in the United States.

As a result, some subscribers use proxies or servers that facilitate access to Internet content not available locally.

Netflix said in January it would clamp down on usage of proxies or unblockers. It appeared to have stepped up enforcement over the weekend, with people on social media and online forums reporting mass outages.

A Twitter user with the handle @mrmitchclarke told the streaming service on Wednesday he would stop paying, attaching a screenshot of a Netflix page telling the user payment cannot proceed.

A Twitter user with the handle @Sethalos said the Netflix service available to Canadian users is “terrible.”

“So what other choice do you have other than Torrent,” he said, referencing BitTorrent, the free peer-to-peer file-sharing protocol that allows illegal movie and TV show downloads.

Netflix’s move comes after its forecast of slower subscription growth this quarter, which sent its shares tumbling 8 percent in after-hours trading on Monday.

A Netflix spokeswoman referred to the company’s January announcement and Monday’s video conference about the company’s earnings and declined further comment.

In the earnings call, Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings dismissed concerns that the crackdown might affect business.

“It’s a very small, but quite vocal minority,” Hastings said of the users affected by the crackdown. “It’s really inconsequential to us.”

Netflix grants unlimited access to its selection of TV shows and movies for a monthly fee and is known for its original shows including “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards.”

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